Last week I wrote a blog post stating that 2012 would be a year of fearless cooking. In that post, I listed a number of things I’d like to cook or bake for the first time ever. This week, I get to mark one of those items off of the list: homemade marshmallows.
The process of making marshmallows was kind of magical to me. I’m not much of a science buff, but watching the transparent syrup and gelatin mixture turn thick and white with just the use of the whip attachment on my Kitchenaid was pretty amazing. How does so much air get incorporated into the syrup so quickly and why does it turn opaque white?
If you’ve never tried a homemade marshmallow, you’re missing out on a great thing. While I had never had a marshmallow made in someone’s kitchen prior to this week, I had at least tried some made in a bakery rather than a manufacturing plant. I won’t deny that I like the marshmallows made in a plant, but the marshmallows I made last night are so much better than those. My husband doesn’t particularly care for store bought marshmallows unless they’re toasted around a campfire, but he seems to like the homemade ones. In fact, he likes them more than I thought he would. (Okay, I admit it: I secretly wished that he would dislike them so that there would be more for me.)
Based on a recent Twitter discussion about homemade marshmallows, I came across a Martha Stewart recipe for them that looked pretty easy other than making sure that the sugar syrup was boiled to precisely 244°F.
Since this was my first attempt at marshmallow production, I stuck close to the Martha Stewart recipe. My only deviation from the recipe was adding a scraped vanilla bean to the syrup. I figured that this was a safe addition that couldn’t possibly destroy my future marshmallows.
In addition (and based on a Pinterest tip from the same Twitter friend), instead of using just confectioner’s sugar to dust the pan, I used a 1:1 ratio of confectioner’s sugar and cornstarch. This seemed to work pretty well: it kept the marshmallows from sticking to the pan and added a little less sweetness to the already sweet treat.
The next time I make these, I’ll probably play around with spices or cocoa powder or something else and make some crazy flavored marshmallows. There’s a peppermint swirl marshmallow picture on Pinterest that tempts me every time I see it, so maybe that will be the next variety (and maybe my husband won’t like those).
One warning: your house will be covered in powdered sugar by the time you’re done cutting these into squares. It’s a small price to pay for marshmallows this delicious.
Recipe from Martha Stewart Living magazine, February 1996
- 3 packets unflavored gelatin
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 cup light corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
- 1 vanilla bean, scraped
- Confectioner’s sugar and cornstarch, for dusting
- Combine gelatin and 1/2 cup cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer with whisk attachment. Let stand 30 minutes.
- Combine granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt, scrapings from vanilla bean and 1/2 cup water in a small heavy saucepan; place over low heat, and stir until sugar has dissolved (this took at least 6 or 8 minutes for me). Wash down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to dissolve sugar crystals.
- Clip on a candy thermometer; raise heat to high. Cook syrup without stirring until it reaches 244 degrees (firm-ball stage). Immediately remove pan from heat.
- With mixer on low speed, slowly and carefully pour syrup into the softened gelatin. Increase speed to high; beat until mixture is very thick and white and has almost tripled in volume, about 15 minutes. Add vanilla; beat to incorporate.
- Generously dust an 9-inch x 13-inch glass baking pan with a mixture of confectioner’s sugar and cornstarch. Pour marshmallow mixture into pan. Dust top with more of the sugar and cornstarch mixture; wet your hands, and pat it to smooth. Dust with confectioner’s sugar; let stand overnight, uncovered, to dry out.
- Turn out onto a board; cut marshmallows with a dry hot knife into squares, and dust with more confectioners’ sugar.